Stakeholders have until next week for TRAI consultation paper

MUMBAI: It was early this month that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) sent out a consultation paper which if implemented will reduce the aggregators' importance in a digitised cable TV environment. The stakeholders: broadcasters, aggregators and MSOs, who had been asked to file their responses today, have now been granted an extension till 3 September.

Confirming the extension, IBF secretary general Shailesh Shah says, "All our members thought that there should be a foolproof plan before going any forward. So we suggested TRAI to extend the date to have thoughtful and insightful responses."

The aggregators who are still working on the responses will be sending out the response first through an email. Subsequently, an Open House Discussion (OHD) on the issues dealt with in the consultation paper, will be held at Delhi on12 September. The date, time and venue for the same will be intimated separately.

The aggregators have welcomed the extension. "We had more or less completed the responses, but the extension will only give us more time to prepare ourselves better," says The One Alliance president Rajesh Kaul.

The consultation paper issued on 6 August attempts to regulate the distribution of television channels from broadcaster to platform operators and discipline the distributors (aggregators). The paper involves amendments to the Tariff and Interconnection orders, and Register of Interconnect Regulations.

The essence of the paper was to clip the immense clout that the four main aggregators MediaPro Enterprises (distributes 75 channels), IndiaCast UTV Media Distribution (distributes 35 channels), Sun Distribution Services and MSM Discovery (distributing 30 channels each) have on the TV ecosystem in India.

The aggregators who feel that the regulator has been mislead by the MSOs have got one more week to present their case better. Though, IBF stresses on 3 September deadline being the final date with no further extensions, we wonder if this common norm will see another extension.

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